Detail from The Canal, Amsterdam, 1889, James McNeill Whistler, The Hunterian, University of Glasgow

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The Pier: A Grey Note

Titles

Several possible titles have been suggested:

  • 'The Pier; a grey note' (1884, Dowdeswell). 1
  • 'Pier at Margate' (1934, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston). 2
  • 'A Grey Note' (1886, Society of British Artists). 3
  • 'The Pier: A Grey Note' (1980, YMSM). 4

A pen inscription on the hack of the panel, dating from the first exhibition in 1884, reads 'The Pier, a grey note/ No. 1, catalogue/ "Notes, Harmonies, Nocturnes".' The inscription has faded and the title given to the painting in Boston in 1934 was based on a misreading.

'The Pier: A Grey Note' is the preferred title.

Description


                    The Pier: A Grey Note, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco
The Pier: A Grey Note, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

A view from a beach, looking across green seas to a pier at far left. There is someone standing on the beach and a rider on a horse in the surf at right.

Site


                    The Pier: A Grey Note, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco
The Pier: A Grey Note, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco

                    Grey and Silver: Mist – Life Boat, Freer Gallery of Art
Grey and Silver: Mist – Life Boat, Freer Gallery of Art

The view was identified conclusively by Anna Greutzner Robins: it shows Smeaton's Pier in the coastal town of St Ives, Cornwall, in south-west England: the pier also appears in the distance in Grey and Silver: Mist - Life Boat [YMSM 287]. 5

Notes:

1: 'Notes' - 'Harmonies' - 'Nocturnes', Messrs Dowdeswell, London, 1884 (cat. no. 1).

2: Oils, Water-colors, Drawings and Prints by James McNeill Whistler, Museum of Fine Arts, Boston, 1934 (cat. no. 14).

3: Winter Exhibition, Society of British Artists, London, 1886 (cat. no. 235).

4: YMSM 1980 [more] (cat. no. 286).

5: Robins 2007 [more] , pp. 13-14.See also Gilbert, Henry, Roy Ray, and Colin Orchard, All About St. Ives: A Guide to the Town, its Galleries and Art History, [St Ives], 2006, p. 9.

Last updated: 11th November 2020 by Margaret